Monday, November 27, 2006


I've been a long time reader of Tom Spencer and always enjoyed his beautiful photographs on his site: The Soul of the Garden.

Reading his Daily Muse from the month of November, his thoughts on gratitude seemed particularly relevant, even though here in Canada, the holiday is long past.

It saddens me to realize how vulnerable we are to advertizers who target our longing for connection with each other and the natural world, and seek to convince us that buying some material things will be a satisfactory substitute. How odd it is that those of our deepest longings can only be satisfied by simplifying our lives, slowing down enough to look and truly see, being still enough to listen and truly hear, being open enough to feel and to be touched. It takes just a little time to savor life, but it requires paying attention.

But too many of us are wildly distracted, stressed out, overscheduled to the point we scarcely have time to breathe.

Tom says "the din that has pervaded every corner of our lives is so loud that some of us have forgotten what our own voices sound like." He quotes Barbara Kingsolver, from her book Small Wonder, "We see so much, understand so little, and are simultaneously told so much about What We Think, as a populace polled minute by minute, that it begins to feel like an extraneous effort to listen at all to our hearts."

My own heart is filled with gratitude when I stop to contemplate the people whose lives touch mine, those people who love me and whom I love.

In anticipation of the Christmas season, I am determined that in reaching out in love to embrace and be embraced by my family and beloved friends, I will not be seduced into thinking that participating in the frenzy of consumerism will demonstrate to those I love what I truly feel about them.

That's not an easy thing. There are insecurities in me that are trying to shout louder than my new resolve to just be, that doing something bigger and grander, buying "just the right thing" will express the right idea best. It is a radical move for me to attempt to just be for and with the people I love. It's the fear that I am not enough.

As promised, I'm giving an update here on how my non-consumer Christmas ideas are progressing. Well, I've discussed the idea with each of the kids. Reactions: #1. "But I want lots of presents! No, you know I'm only joking." #2. "...except for Kaylee. S. already told me they got X for Kaylee, and also Y and Z for Kaylee. I just got rid of a Y she already had and no longer plays with...she has so much stuff and she doesn't want me to throw anything out...She is so suspicious now that if she can't find something, she says accusingly, 'did you throw it out??'" #3. (silence)

The topic came up at work with one of my peers. Brenda wisely suggested that it might take 2 or 3 seasons. The idea will percolate about and then as happened in her family, a season or two later, a more forceful person will institute a new family tradition as if it were a new brilliant idea of their own :)

“The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope.” ~~Barbara Kingsolver


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